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Wednesday, October 17, 2012

New recipes, new ideas


It’s been fun these last few weeks to see what new fall cookbooks have been released and which ones have been sent to my office.

Some of my favorites this year have been Southern Living publications, so I thought I’d share my thoughts as well as recipes from two.

If you’re already thinking ahead to Christmas gifts, I’d recommend both of these books.



“FIX IT & FREEZE IT & HEAT IT & EAT IT”

That’s a long name for a cookbook, isn’t it! Once you get past the title and the colorful cover, you have a treat inside.

This 320-page softbound book is designed for cooks who like to think ahead and put food in the freezer for a later meal.

The first pages of the book give a beginner’s guide to what can be frozen and the best way to package foods for the freezer. Then it’s on to the recipes.

There are a number of recipes for such basics as a pizza sauce, a honey-barbecue sauce and even Double Berry Freezer Jam, and a chapter on double-duty recipes.

The double-duty recipes can make two very different recipes. For instance, one evening you make Beef Sloppy Joes and use eight servings of the sauce for the Sloppy Joes. You can then freeze 5 cups of the beef mixture to use in Sloppy Joe Shepherd’s Pie another evening. Do the same thing with an Old-Fashioned Pot Roast one night and freeze 5 cups of leftover meat for Beef-and-Bean Tostados.

One of my favorite recipes, and the one I will try first from this section, is Easy Barbecued Chicken that’s cooked in a slow cooker; following it is a recipe for Hearty Brunswick Stew using 3 cups of the leftover chicken.

The rest of the book is mostly recipes that would work well when made in advance and frozen for later use. They could also be divided in half, using one portion the night you make it and freezing the other half for another day when you don’t want to cook but don’t mind thawing!

Some recipes that caught my eye include Home-style Ground Beef Casserole, Beefy Minestrone Soup, Hamburger Steak with Sweet Onion Mushroom Gravy and Anytime Chicken and Dressing.

This cookbook has some interesting ideas for things to freeze for later use, including pimiento cheese. This recipe uses both Cheddar cheese and Velvetta, which I’ve never tried in pimiento cheese. There’s also a recipe for Hurry-Up Homemade Crescent Rolls that would be a big hit at my house. The recipe uses an all-purpose baking mix, such as Bisquick, which intrigues me.

There are many do-ahead desserts, too, but one I want to share today is White Fruit Cake. I’ve never made a fruit cake, but this one sure is pretty — filled with a mix of the traditional dried fruits. Once baked, the cake is covered with Orange-Bourbon Glaze and can be frozen for up to a month.

I really like this cookbook. I have found a number of recipes I want to try. I would recommend this to anyone who enjoys cooking or for holiday gifts.

“Southern Living: Fix It & Freeze It & Heat It & Eat It.” Oxmoor House. $19.95. You can purchase the book from online vendors.



BIG BOOK OF SLOW COOKING

It’s no secret that I have a weakness for trying new slow cooker dishes. I’ve been trying new dishes in one slow cooker or another since I was married 27 years ago. I love the convenience of doing a little prep work the night before and having the luxury of coming home to a simmering meal the next night!

This Southern Living Book grabbed my attention from the beginning, not only with it’s enticing cover photo of spicy Asian Barbecue Drummettes sprinkled with sesame seeds but also with the wording that there were “200 fresh, wholesome recipes — ready and waiting” inside.I was not disappointed when I started thumbing through this 288-page softbound book. In fact, I made two of the recipes in the first week: an adaptation of the drummettes and Butternut Squash Soup with Vanilla Bean. They were both so good!

Several features drew me to this book originally and keep holding my interest each time I flip through it. The photography is gorgeous and gives me a good idea of what I have in store if I try Shortcut Ravioli Lasagna, for instance, or Orange-Molasses BBQ Ribs.

Also, I love the variety in this book. Whether you are a novice cook or an old pro, you can find plenty of recipes to try in this book. Recipes range from beverages (including Caramel Apple Cider that I’ve promised my son we’d try) and desserts, to side dishes and main courses.

There are plenty of seafood recipes in the book for those who’d like to experiment with such fare as a Lowcountry Shrimp Boil that cooks in five hours or Seafood Gumbo that cooks in just over three hours. And there are several pasta dishes I’d like to try including Three-Cheese Penne Bake and a lasagna with Swiss chard.

Other recipes that caught my eye as appealing and different for slow cooker food include Chicken Tostadas, Beef Brisket Soft Tacos, and Hot and Spicy Black-eyed Peas that are packed with peppers, pepperoni, Mexican-style stewed tomatoes and rice.

If you’re new to the slow cooker or purchasing this book for a new cook, you’ll be glad to know this book also comes with an introduction and tips for using this handy appliance.

“Southern Living: Big Book of Slow Cooking.” Oxmoor House. $22.95. You can purchase the book from online vendors.



Anytime Chicken and Dressing
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 7 green onions, chopped
  • 2 celery ribs, chopped
  • 10 cornbread muffins, crumbled (about 3 1/2 cups)
  • 1/2 (16-oz.) package herb-seasoned stuffing mix
  • 5 cups chicken broth
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped cooked chicken
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 teaspoon poultry seasoning
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat; add green onions and celery and sautee 5 minutes or until tender.

Combine cornbread and remaining ingredients in a large bowl; add sauteed vegetable mixture, stirring well. Spoon dressing into a lightly greased 13X9-inch baking dish.

TO FREEZE IT: Cover baking dish tightly with heavy duty aluminum foil; label and freeze up to 2 months. To heat, let casserole thaw overnight in fridge. Uncovered and bake at 350 degrees for 55 minutes or until lightly browned.

TO EAT NOW: Bake uncovered at 350 degrees for 45 minutes or until lightly browned.

Makes 6 servings.

"Southern Living: Fix It & Freeze It & Heat It & Eat It"


Italian Sausage and Peppers with Rotini
  • 1 19.5-oz. package turkey Italian sausage links
  • 1 cup finely chopped sweet onion
  • 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 medium yellow bell peppers, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 2 medium red bell peppers, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 26-oz. jar tomato pasta sauce
  • 4 1/2 cups (12 ozs.) uncooked rotini pasta
  • 6 tablespoons shredded Parmesan cheese
Mix all ingredients except pasta and cheese in a lightly greased 3- or 4-quart slow cooker. Cover and cook on low 6 to 8 hours. Cook and drain pasta according to package directions. Serve sausage mixture over pasta; sprinkle each serving with 1 tablespoon cheese.

Makes 6 servings.

"Southern Living: Big Book of Slow Cooking"


Mexican Macaroni
  • 1 8-oz. package elbow macaroni, uncooked
  • 1 10-oz. can diced tomatoes and green chilies, undrained
  • 1 10 3/4-oz. can cream of mushroom soup, undiluted
  • 1 8-oz. container sour cream
  • 1 4.5 oz. can chopped green chilies
  • 2 cups (8 ozs.) shredded Mexican four-cheese blend
Cook macaroni in boiling water for 6 minutes. Stir together macaroni, diced tomatoes and next 3 ingredients with 1 cup water in a bowl. Stir in 11/2 cups cheese. Pour mixture into a lightly greased 3-quart slow cooker; top with remaining 1/2 cup cheese.

Cover and cook on low 3 hours or until done.

Makes 6 servings.

"Southern Living: Big Book of Slow Cooking"


White Fruit Cake
  • 1 cup dark raisins
  • 1 cup golden raisins
  • 1 cup canned pineapple tidbits, drained
  • 1/2 cup dried currants
  • 1/4 cup orange juice
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 5 large eggs
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking power
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons lemon zest
  • 2 teaspoons orange zest
  • 1/2 cup candied green cherries, quartered
  • 1/4 cup candied red cherries, quartered
  • Orange-Bourbon Glaze (follows)
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Stir together first 5 ingredients; cover and let stand 30 minutes.

Beat butter at medium speed with an electric mixer 2 minutes or until creamy. Gradually add sugar, beating 5 to 7 minutes or until blended. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating just until yellow disappears.

Stir together flour, baking powder and salt; reserve 1/2 cup flour mixture. Gradually add remaining flour mixture to butter mixture, beating at low speed just until blended after each addition. Stir in lemon and orange zest.

Drain raisin mixture and stir in cherries. Toss raisin mixture with reserved 1/2 cup flour mixture and fold into batter. Spoon batter into 2 lightly greased 8X4-inch loaf pans.

Bake at 325 degrees for 45 minutes to 1 hour or until a wooden pick inserted into center comes out clean. Brush hot cakes with Orange-Bourbon Glaze until absorbed. Cool in pans 10 minutes; invert cakes onto a wire rack and cool completely.

TO FREEZE IT: Wrap cake layers tightly with plastic wrap and loosely with aluminum foil. Label and freeze up to 1 month. Thaw at room temperature.

Makes two loaves.


Orange-Bourbon Glaze
  • 1/4 cup orange juice
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons bourbon
Cook orange juice and sugar in a small saucepan over medium heat 2 minutes or until sugar is dissolved. Remove orange juice mixture from heat and stir in bourbon.

"Southern Living: Fit It & Freeze It & Heat It & Eat It"

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